'The dude is just a stud': Bison CB Talbert providing valuable versatility, leadership in 5th season
NDSU senior cornerback Destin Talbert has developed into one of the team leaders on the Bison defense.
FARGO — North Dakota State cornerback Destin Talbert has drawn from the abilities of multiple teammates to help him develop as a player during his five seasons in the Bison football program .
The senior mentioned former NDSU cornerbacks Marquise Bridges, Jalen Allison and Josh Hayes as players who have influenced his game.
“For instance, like good feet, Marquise Bridges and Jalen Allison, really their technique I really tried to pattern myself off of versus like the mentality of somebody like Josh Hayes, who really went out there and played with his type of grit," Talbert said. "I feel like I tried to grow off of what he gave me.”
The 6-foot, 187-pound Talbert is now the veteran who can influence the younger players in the program.
“That’s what this place is all about," Talbert said. “I feel like I’m trying to be that for the guys younger than me at my position and any given position.”
The Bison (4-1, 2-0 MVFC) next play at noon Saturday, Oct. 8, at Indiana State in Missouri Valley Football Conference play. Talbert is tied for fourth on the team with 19 total tackles through five games. He was named one of the team's six captains this season.
“DT is a great dude," said Bison senior defensive end Spencer Waege. "He’s not the most vocal guy at all times. Seeing him now become a captain this year and to see him kind of come out of his shell at little bit and be more vocal has been really cool. ... He’s another guy who comes in every day and works his tail off.”
Talbert made one of the most iconic defensive plays in Bison football history. His one-handed, fourth-quarter interception in the end zone helped preserve a 20-14 victory against James Madison in last season's NCAA Division I FCS semifinals. The Bison went on to win their ninth FCS national championship in the past 11 seasons.
Talbert had another chance to make a big play in last weekend's 27-14 home victory against Youngstown State, but he dropped an interception that could have been returned for a touchdown. Talbert said his maturity has helped him shake off missed opportunities.
“It’s just a matter of having short-term memory, especially during the game," Talbert said. "That’s something I really focused on in my growth throughout my career at NDSU. I used to maybe let that bother me, like a play I felt like I should have made, would have bothered me for the rest of the game and especially after the game.”
Talbert said he's also growing into his role as a team captain, trying to be more vocal in his leadership. He said former Bison offensive lineman Cordell Volson — now a rookie starter for the Cincinnati Bengals — was an exemplary leader during his time in the Bison program.
“It’s more difficult than you would think. With my personality and being more introverted, it may not come naturally like it does to others," said Talbert, from Darien, Ill. “Seeing somebody like Cordell, I was just watching on TV, I really felt like he was meant for that role. Everything about him is the role of a captain for us.”
Talbert has been an important special teams performer for multiple seasons and has developed into a versatile defensive back. He has the ability to play an outside cornerback spot and also cover receivers in the slot.
“It really helps out our defense tremendously, being that athletic to be able to cover guys way out on the perimeter and come into the slot and handle guys that way," Waege said. "The dude is just a stud.”
Talbert takes pride in his versatility and also being able to excel on special teams.
“I’m in a few different positions," Talbert said. "I show up in the nickel in the slot a little bit now. I like to be anywhere where the ball is so that nickel is a little closer to where it usually is, sometimes they throw it out to the corner, so I’m everywhere. ... It makes no difference, wherever, I just like to make plays.”
Talbert flashed that playmaking ability in the season-opening victory against Drake, returning a blocked field goal 57 yards for a touchdown. While earlier in his career Talbert let his play do the talking, he's working to be a more vocal presence, too.
“I definitely was quiet, I still feel like I am quiet, I’m still working on that," Talbert said. "With being a captain, you try to expand that role to take guys to the side a little more often, so although I still might not be the most rowdy, and the one that talks above everybody else, I try to take my moments.”